Customer Review

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Bark" is better than their bite, 22 July 2005
This review is from: Gallowsbird's Bark (Audio CD)
The Fiery Furnaces seem to be the new king (and queen) of enigmatic, larger-than-life indie rock. While their second album was the one that got things moving, their debut "Gallowsbird's Bark" gained them a reputation for rich music and strange, dreamy writing.

Siblings Eleanor and Matthew Friedberger open things with the jangly, cascading pop of "South Is Only A Home" -- it's a fun little tune, but a bit chaotic-sounding. It's only in the third song, "Leaky Tunnel," that the album kicks into high gear, with banjo and electric guitar, overlaid with sparkling piano and rapid-fire percussion. Then you know that these two are something special.

Dipping into alt-country in places, the Furnaces mostly focus on trippy rock songs and catchy oddball pop songs. There's an out-and-out rocker in "Asthma Attack," a sprawling experimental stretch in "Crystal Clear," and they even try a bluesy acoustic song in "Bright Blue Tie," which only has a few flickery synth bits in the background.

Sparkly, tinkly piano, folky, dreamy, trippy, rock'n'roll and psychedelic music-hall. Those are only a few of the things that come to mind when listening to "Gallowsbird's Park." There's something oddly childlike and dreamy about this music, despite songs about how "if men and wine don't kill me." Perhaps it's the fact that their music has so many facets.

The sole problem seems to be, oddly enough, restraint. The Fiery Furnaces are not now known for their musical restraint, but in this album they seem to be damming up their larger-than-life talents. But even dammed-up, their catchy, complex blend of guitar rock, banjo, and rippling piano is intoxicating, as is the oddball additions. Who knew that a band with garage rock roots could have xylophone and the occasional electronica flicker?

Eleanor Friedberger sounds like she's having a great time here; you can imagine this husky-voiced singer singing a shopping list and sounding great. As it is, she brings a devil-may-care edge to lyrics about paying fines, celebrating the millennium, and oddball rhymes ("Down in the dumps/Me and the seagulls we were looking for lumps").

The Fiery Furnaces are gaining recognition for some of the most original indierock in years. And their enchanting debut is a rollicking, frolicking romp that never gets dull.
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